We all know it’s important to take care of your car’s engine, but it can be easy to overlook, ignore or dismiss potential warning signs as ‘just a blip’ or something that you don’t need to get checked out until later. But before it’s too late and you risk seriously damaging the engine, it’s worth recognising and considering the signs that could indicate that not all is well with your engine.
As a rule of thumb, we’d advise you to seek out a professional mechanic if your car is experiencing any of these problems. The earlier you can get engine damage treated, the easier it’ll be to get fixed; saving on both costs and hassle along the way.
If you spend a lot of time with your car, you’ll become attuned to the noise it makes and you’ll probably tell when it sounds different. Here are the noises you need to be concerned about.
If it’s a knocking or thumping type of noise, chances are the rod bearings have worn out or they’ve gotten too loose. The bearings will likely fail soon, and driving around in this kind of state is not recommended until it’s been fully tested and repaired.
If your engine’s hitting those high notes and letting out some ear-splitting squeaks and squeals, the fan belt is taking some real punishment. When it gets loose and worn down, the belt stops moving at the same pace as the pulleys controlling it, resulting in a grating falsetto. If it’s not too loose, look in your car’s manual for any repair procedures to tighten it up. Otherwise, if it’s too worn out, you might need to replace it.
A grinding noise is not only irritating to the ears, it probably means your front brake pads are getting shaved away every time you hit the road. When the last bit of the pad has gone, the metal backing plate clamps directly onto the brake disc, significantly reducing the car’s braking effectiveness. We’d strongly advise not getting in your car when things get this bad.
Clear smoke from your tailpipe isn’t a problem, but if your motor starts puffing out blue, black or white smoke, your car has got a habit you’ll want to snuff out as soon as possible.
If it’s blue, then that means oil is escaping from the engine and being burned alongside the fuel. A quick fix would be to keep adding engine oil to the crankcase, but really, you should take the car in to get any worn or damaged seals repaired.
White smoke is a sign that either water condensation or antifreeze has combined with the fuel supply. Topping up on your coolant or antifreeze provides a temporary solution and stops it from overheating, but a professional check-up would be a wiser move.
When you start seeing black smoke and it’s not clearing as the engine warms up, then that could mean the air filter has been clogged up. A simple replacement will do the trick, but if the problem persists, then the air-to-fuel ratio is probably off balance.
This is due to a bad fuel pressure regulator or a leaky fuel injector, which will both need replacing if you want your car to cut down on all the smoking while you’re driving.